Thursday, March 13, 2008

George Rears - 1974/2004

George Rears - You can go home again.

I drifted away from comics in the early nineties, and came back late in the decade. I enjoyed a lot of the new stuff: The Morrison JLA and the Waid Flash in particular. The fact that these books featured characters I loved as a kid did not escape my notice.

It didn't take long for the collecting/back issue bug to come back, and pretty soon, I decided that I'd try and focus on collecting the three core books I always enjoyed: Justice League of America, Flash, and Green Lantern. Within a few years I pretty much had a solid run from 1972 to present for each of these books, and it became apparent that each new (or should I say, old) book I bought was going to start getting more and more expensive.

I also had just started buying the DC Archives, and I was quickly able to "acquire" a lot of the older stories in that format. With two small kids around, I didn't want to start paying fifty-seventy-five dollars for comics that I had already read in a hardcover collection.

Still, the collector bug is a hard one to beat. I found myself going to the annual big comic show in Philadelphia each year and buying random stuff: just because it was cheap--or it looked interesting. I definitely had lost focus. I had heard of people buying all their comics from their birth month, and that concept seemed interesting.

One day, I came across a web site (Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics, for you googlers out there) that showed all the DC books released in a certain month. I threw in my birth month, and it confirmed what I had suspected. First, books from 1967 were still pretty expensive, yet cheaply available in reprints. Second, although these books were historically important (being the Silver Age and all that) I had no emotional connection to a lot of the books. Although it would be interesting to have a collection of these books, it didn't excite me.

For giggles sake, I looked up the cover date for The Flash 228. That book has always had a special place in my heart as the first comic I ever bought. Comic books were 20 cents back then and I have a memory (probably not a real one) of buying a dollar worth of books that fateful day, including Flash, Superboy (Featuring the Legion of Super-Hereoes), Superman, and Adventure. Please note that adds up to four books, not five. More reason to suspect an artificial memory implant. Probably a Khundish plot. Anyway..when seeing all the books available that month, memories came flooding back. It was then I knew. I HAD TO HAVE THEM ALL!

So I set out on my comic collecting quest. Thanks to ComicBase, the comic book database, I was able to quickly print out a report of all the books cover dated July 1974. Then the complications came up. What about the bi-monthlies, dated August? What about some of the other bi-monthlies from the month before that look familiar--perhaps I started buying books in the middle of a month, so the starting date was not as clean as I’d like to think...

Fast forward to last year: I was traveling for work, and I happened to be in Atlanta the weekend of their ComicCon. Having plenty of time to go through bask issue boxes, I got into my quest. I wasn't quite sure what Dagar the Invincible was, but the book had the right date stamp on it, so I bought it.

Then there was Baby Snoots. Never heard of it. Apparently it was a bi-monthly, with a cover date of August, it would have come out with the July books. Ouch. Another must buy. I got some really weird looks from some dealers. One guy was trying to sell me a copy of Amazing Spider-Man 134--hyping the first appearance of the Tarantula. I told him I really didn't care about that--I was only interested in the book because of the cover date.

I then bought the Spider-Man issue along with a copy of Huey, Dewey, and Louie, Junior Woodchucks. I must have made an impression on him...the next day he picked me out of a crowd, and showed me the other books he found in his collection with a July 1974 cover date.

Reality has set in now. According to ComicBase, there are 153 comics with a July, 1974 cover date. Throw in half of August's 158 as bi-monthlies, and I have about 225 books to get before the quest is over. So I have set goals.

This year: finish DC. By end of 2010, finish Marvel. Then Archie. The others, including Charlton, Harvey, and Gold Key will have their day, too. Just not yet.

I am only a few books way from finishing DC. I set my target for any bi-monthly published after March 21, 1974 but prior to May 23, 1974, and any monthly with a July cover date (i.e. published after April 2, 1974 but before May 2, 1974). That is a total of 39 books, of which I now have 33.

sgThis has been a lot of fun so far. When I told Bloggin’ Rob Kelly about this quest, he handed me a copy of Dracula Lives!--cover dated July 1974. The other day, I noticed I already had one of the tabloid sized Limited Collector Editions that DC had put out that month. I had it stored somewhere else because of the odd size, and had never cataloged it.

Sometimes I find myself rediscovering stories I haven't read in over thirty years, but often I find I'm enjoying stories from that I would never have read as a six year old.

Young Romance 200- Where are you?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A great passion for comics books!